UK special forces to use disguises to infitrate evil traffickers in Calais mission


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Smugglers are still offering peopel dangerous trips across the Channel with Downing Street hoping the Special Reconnaissance Regiment will track down the criminal gangs responsible

Reporter Amy Sharpe with a deflated, abandoned dinghy left on the beach at Wimereux, overlooking the English coast
Reporter Amy Sharpe with a deflated, abandoned dinghy left on the beach at Wimereux, overlooking the English coast

Special forces were tonight poised to go to Calais to track down the crime gangs sending migrants across the Channel.

Britain is set to offer a team of up to 30 elite troops from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) to help French police tackle the crisis.

The undercover soldiers may even disguise themselves as migrants in an attempt to infiltrate traffickers.

It comes as harrowing stories continued to emerge of the 27 migrants, mostly from a camp near Dunkirk, who perished when their boat deflated in the Channel on Wednesday.

They include Kurdish bride-to-be Maryam Hamdamin, 24, who was trying to get into the UK to join her fiance in Bournemouth.

Migrants in squalid makeshift camp told the Sunday People how smugglers were still offering deadly trips across the Channel despite the latest deaths.

Security chiefs have told Downing Street that the only way to control the vast numbers of people embarking on the voyage is to target traffickers.

British diplomats hope the offer of special forces will improve tensions between London and Paris after President Macron cancelled a meeting with Boris Johnson over the crisis.

Children from Iraq play at a predominantly Kurdish migrant refugee camp in Dunkerque
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Image:

Charlie Varley/varleypix.com)

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One source said: “Last week’s tragedy was a tipping point which was always going to come.

“The UK has a lot of assets which could be used to help the French clamp down on the traffickers. It is accepted that trying to stop migrants coming across the Channel doesn’t work. The key to the problem is the traffickers. If they can’t function, the migrants can’t cross.

“Whether or not France will accept the offer remains to be seen. These things are always diplomatically fraught and no country likes to admit that it needs help.”

Operators from the regiment could be used to track and film traffickers and hand over the intelligence to the French authorities. It is also understood that Britain’s eavesdropping centre GCHQ will offer to hack into the criminal gangs’ mobile phone networks.

Elite troops from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment could be sent into Calais
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Image:

Supplied via Sean Rayment)

British and French special forces have a close relationship and are working together against Islamic terrorists in Mali, West Africa.

The SRR is the most secret part of UK special forces and is the only elite unit to recruit women. It specialises in aggressive surveillance and is often deployed on operations regarded as too dangerous for MI5.

It supports the police and MI5 on counter-terrorist operations in the UK and often works with MI6 officers on foreign missions.

The regiment has fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and troops often disguise themselves in local clothing such as Arabic robes.

Similar measures could be used to identify people smugglers, it is claimed.

At least 17 men, seven women – including bride-to-be Maryam and another who was pregnant – and three children are known to have died in Wednesday’s doomed trip.

Many of the victims who drowned at sea on November 24th are suspected to have left this camp before attempting their fateful journey to Britain
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Image:

Charlie Varley/varleypix.com)

Mohammad Aziz, 31, is another feared drowned after he phoned a friend to say: “It’s not good, the engine isn’t powerful enough – I don’t know if we’re going to make it.”

He has not been heard of since his frantic call to a fellow Iraqi Kurd.

Fears were also growing for a group of Afghan youngsters who are missing. Riaz Mohammed, 12, his relative Share Mohammed, 17, and two other teenagers, Palowan, 16, and Shinai, 15, were attempting the crossing that day.

One charity worker at the camp said it was difficult to know who had died as UK authorities confiscate mobile phones of those who do get across.

A migrant who has tried and failed to cross the Channel four times told how Calais is so dangerous he carries a gun.

Security chiefs have said the only to stop dangerous crossings is to target criminal gangs offering passage
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Image:

Charlie Varley/varleypix.com)

Mohammed Hutamzadth lives in sheltered accommodation after travelling to France five years ago from Iran, where he was a car park manager.

The 40-year-old previously boarded trucks at the ferry port and Eurotunnel in his attempts to cross into the UK.

Each time he was caught by French police and sent to detention centres where he would spend about seven hours before being freed.

Mohammed said: “It is too easy to find a smuggler here, you just ask around. Living here is very dangerous, there is a sort of mafia who control everything. Everything is life and death. I have to have a gun for protection.

“I have no passport, the only ID I have is this paperwork and some of what it says is not even correct.

“Here in Calais, money is god. As long as I have money I will easily find someone who will take me in a boat.

The SRR unit badge – who could be sent to Calais to track down gangs

“Or maybe I will try and buy a boat myself. Everyone heard about the people that drowned of course, and it is sad. It is a risk that I still wish to take.

“I will take a boat next month. Of course it is dangerous. But my whole life has become dangerous.”

Remnants of rubber dinghies littered the sand dunes on the coast at Wimereux near Calais yesterday. We found a cardboard box marked Scuba Schools International containing two water pumps and a makeshift water scoop.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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